Linking internships and classroom learning: A case study examination of hospitalility and tourism management students
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This exploratory study focuses on Hospitality and Tourism Management internships to examine whether these cooperative education experiences complement student learning and furthermore, enhance knowledge previously gained through a traditional classroom setting. It specifically focuses on preparation for the internship experience, identifies signs of links to prior classroom learning, explores if the internship allowed the student to develop new skills and finally seeks connections between academic theories and their practical application in the workplace. A mixed methodology is used which initially analyses quantitative data from 339 questionnaire respondents before examining qualitative outcomes via a series of focus groups with consenting students. Whilst set in the context of a Case University, the study suggests that students feel that the education they received prior to their internship had prepared them for their experiences. In addition, statistical significance showed that theories discussed in the classroom are important to their learning and that examples of these theoretical approaches were evident during their practical experiences. Finally, as a result of their internships, students felt that their classroom education underpinned the additional learning of new skills and competencies that occurred during their internships. The findings provide a sound first step in the examination of the teaching effectiveness at the Case University and offer opportunities for further research in a broader context.
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